Southern Fulton schools go all virtual starting Sept. 20

School officials hope to return students to classrooms on Oct. 4

by Geoff Fox

Students in Southern Fulton County, Pa. will be doing their schoolwork from home for the next two weeks, due to a high transmission rate and rising cases of COVID within the district.

Beginning Monday, September 20, students will commence virtual learning. District officials plan a return date of Monday, October 4.

With the move to virtual learning, this means all sports and extracurricular activities have been suspended in the Southern Fulton School District.

In a Sept. 17 posted online and letter sent to families, district officials said the decision was made because the health and safety of the students is a priority and a school closure would mitigate the spread of the virus any further.

“We are committed to a top-notch education and switching to virtual learning will provide a constant platform for all learners,” Superintendent Dr. Tara Will said in the letter.

Will notes in the letter the level of transmission is at “an all-time high” within Southern Fulton schools, as well as the community level of transmission being at an all-time high.

From August 30 to September 17, there were 275 reported cases in Fulton County, which is an average of 14.47 per day.

That number is higher than what was experienced in December and January last school year.

Within the last three days, there were 52 cases for an average of 17.3 per day.

“Again, these numbers surpass the average of 10 per day back in the height of the pandemic, when there wasn’t a vaccine available,” Will said.

The closure of Southern Fulton Elementary and Southern Fulton High School will allow both buildings to receive a thorough deep cleaning.

17 students at High School have COVID

According to the letter, there have been one positive case of COVID in the staff and five in students at Southern Fulton Elementary. Seven members of the staff are in quarantine and 62 students are in quarantine.

At Southern Fulton High School, two staff members have tested positive for COVID and 17 students have tested positive. Six staff members are in quarantine and 88 students are in quarantine.

For the district workers, there have been one positive case and one in the transportation department. Only the transportation department has three quarantined members.

“These decisions are never easy because we all agree that in-person instruction is the best learning environment for our children,” Will said in the email.

If families don’t have access to the internet, they can contact Jennifer Mellott at the Southern Fulton District Office at 717-294-2203, ext. 207 or in person Saturday, September 18, from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.